Terry Rozier’s late free throws helped the Boston Celtics seal a 113-107 win over the Milwaukee Bucks in the opening game of their Eastern Conference playoff series.
Rozier hit three-straight foul shots inside the final 20 seconds of overtime, including one after Milwaukee star Giannis Antetokounmpo fouled him going for a rebound with 13 seconds left.
As the Celtics led by four at 110-106, Antetokounmpo made one of two free throws. After the miss on the second he hit Rozier from behind for his sixth foul and fouled out. Rozier then hit the first of his free throws to put Boston up by four yet again and Milwaukee never got closer.
Rozier looked to have made the game-winning shot in regulation but released his shot just a fraction too soon.
After Bucks guard Malcom Brogdon tied the game at 96-96 late in the fourth, Rozier hit a step-back three with 0.5 seconds left. Rozier took the inbounds pass and faked a drive to the lane on Bucks Eric Bledsoe, who had no chance to get back to Rozier before the shot.
But that half a second was too much time for the Bucks. Khris Middleton caught the inbounds pass and barely released the ball before the buzzer to send the game to overtime.
With Kyrie Irving out, the question hanging over the Celtics entering the playoffs was who would step up in his absence. And, much like the regular season — which was played without Irving for much of it — the answer for Boston was “a lot of players.”
Rozier was one of four Celtics who scored over 20 points. Al Horford led the team with 24 while Marcus Morris scored 23. Jaylen Brown had 20 while rookie Jayson Tatum had 19 points and a key block of Brogdon late in overtime.
Tatum swatted Brogdon as he headed to the lane with 26 seconds left. Brogdon was able to get the ball out to Tony Snell, but his corner three clanked off the rim. Horford rebounded the ball and got it to Rozier, who made it a four-point game with his two free throws.
Antetokounmpo finished with 35 points while Middleton had 31. The Bucks combined for 20 turnovers, including five by Eric Bledsoe who fouled out and had just nine points on 4-12 shooting.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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